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3D printed robot arm enables IAM 3D Hub to automate assembly

HP’s industrial 3D printing machine creates customized 3D printed parts for IAM 3D Hub and customers.

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Industry

Industrial 3D Printing

Sector: Robotics

Material

HP 3D High Reusability2 PA 12

Challenge

To help customers decrease product development times through automated assembly.

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Technology

HP Multi Jet Fusion technology

HP Jet Fusion 4200 3D Printer

Results

HP MJF’s design freedom allows IAM 3D Hub to create 3D printed robot parts and tooling for their customers.

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CHALLENGE

Manufacturing and assembling automotive parts

IAM 3D Hub helps integrate and coordinate activity in the additive manufacturing ecosystem and provides customers with alternative ways to design, develop, and manufacture new products and services. 

 

Continental Automotive Spain SA—an IAM 3D Hub

customer—has two factories in Spain: One focuses on manufacturing and assembling parts for instrument panels, while the other specializes in using injection molding to make plastic parts for the construction and assembly of dashboards, center consoles, and other interior automotive components. 

 

Given the complex nature of these parts, final finishing and assembly operations are mostly performed manually. 

However, Continental started looking into how these tasks could be automated by combining new types of jigs and

fixtures with robots using specialized grippers. 

 

Newly designed grippers could help reduce the time required for assembly, coupling, calibration, and maintenance of the tooling, both in new production activity and during machine changes.

 

The grippers not only needed to be optimized for specific functions, they also needed to be robust and reliable enough for use in a production environment and had to be compatible with the usual 6-axis robotic arms and gantries that are typically installed in injection cells.

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“With HP’s Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, we had the ability to simplify both the operation of the grippers and the tooling required for final assembly. We could design parts with much less complexity, in some cases reducing the number of components by 80%. Further, we could create less expensive parts that were more robust and reliable, in addition to being easier to connect and control.”

Magi Galiando, Technical and Scientific Director, IAM 3D Hub

SOLUTION

HP’s industrial 3D printing machine produces customized grippers and tooling 

IAM 3D Hub designed new grippers and tooling in Solidworks and Rhinoceros, and produced them using the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution. 

 

These 3D printed grippers could grab and use the tooling required for each task, while the robustness of their design minimized maintenance and eliminated the need for calibration. 

They also were less expensive to produce and reduced the weight and inertia by more than 80%, enabling the customer to use more affordable robots with a lower load capacity.

 

“Final assembly is expensive and time-consuming. HP MJF validates the implementation of additive manufacturing for production tooling across the automotive industry,” explained Magi Galiando, Technical and Scientific Director at IAM 3D Hub .

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RESULTS

Simpler, faster
production with 3D printed parts

IAM 3D Hub’s new design strategies helped decrease the time it takes to create the 3D printed grippers by 30%. HP MJF technology also helped replace the complex and intricate design of previous grippers with newer organic structures that reduced their weight by more than 85%. 

 

Producing 3D printed grippers also helped reduce the space required for the system to operate. With the inclusion of a coupling mechanism, the new design facilitates a faster connection with the robot, reducing process and installation times by 40%.

“HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology allows organizations to completely rethink their approach to complex workflows,” said Galindo. “Our advice to other companies in the manufacturing industry is to start using it now to take advantage of the opportunities that 3D printing provides.”

 

IAM 3D Hub is helping Continental further digitize their operations. Working with other technologies—including robotics, machine learning, sensors, and the Internet of Things—3D printing is playing an important role in helping them achieve this transformation.

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Industrial 3D Printing case studies

  1. All images are data courtesy of IAM 3D Hub.
  2. HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solutions using HP 3D High Reusability PA 12 provide up to 80% powder reusability ratio, producing functional parts batch after batch. For testing, material is aged in real printing conditions and powder is tracked by generations (worst case for reusability). Parts are then made from each generation and tested for mechanical properties and accuracy.